How to Pick the Right Business Coach

Author: Nate Majors

Let’s say, for argument sake, I’ve convinced you a business coach is just what you need. You confidently and excitedly pull out your phone Google-ing “Business Coach” with a number of possibilities popping up.

That’s when the questions start…“How do I choose the right one? Call the first person in the list? Should I believe everything I read on a website? 10X revenue growth, really? Is the internet even the best place to start? What can I expect? Will it hurt?”

Inevitably the questions multiply with hesitancy over the whole idea beginning to grow. Shortly thereafter unsurety ushers in frustration resulting in “Oh, I knew this was a waste of time!”

Before you know it your phone is quietly back in its usual resting place.

That escalated quickly, didn’t it? So, let’s back up a little and unravel the big questions to help you choose YOUR business coach.

Know Thyself

If Business Coaching is a relationship then, like any relationship, it has to match YOU as an individual or organization. And “match” doesn’t necessarily mean “same-as” or “like-minded” and may not even mean “from my industry.” Rather, strong relationships are built on a few core factors you (A) must understand about yourself or your company before getting into a coaching relationship (B) can easily express to your coach during the initial “get to know you” phase before coaching begins and (C) emerge as true while the coach evaluates the needs of you or your organization. More on this a little later.

The “How-To” Portion Of The Article

As with any valuable relationship you began, there was probably an intermediary involved. A friend who knew you and your interests sets you up on a date with someone “just right for you.” That volunteer organization brought you together with someone who became your best friend. Your common interest in a football team with that guy in the neighborhood introduced you to that booster club you joined in the city you just moved to.

Why treat the relationship affecting your business any differently? Get at least 3 candidates by:

  • Asking friends or colleagues for a referral. You’d be surprised how many people have in the past or are beginning to use a coach of some kind. Tell them who you
  • Contacting local networking groups or business organizations. Your local Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Toastmasters, Networking Group, etc. may include a coach or know of one in the area.
  • Checking out LinkedIn. Being a site more business/professionally focused than a general internet search, LinkedIn can help narrow the search to a coach in your area along with valuable feedback from past clients along with insight into the types of clients the coach typically services.
  • Seeking out Associations and Federations. This is probably your last step before hitting Google but the two I’ve been most impressed with are the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and WABC (Worldwide Association of Business Coaches). Both have a searchable directory for finding association members in your area. Once you’ve narrowed down a few choices, consider contacting the chapter directly or visiting a chapter in your area to get better acquainted with the person you’re interested in evaluating.
  • Repeating the process from Step #1. Before you or a member of your staff comb through a web search on business coaches, try repeating the above steps. The extra effort could save you some time and headache of working with the wrong

Now Is “Later” 

Remember how I said we’d discuss those core factors later? When selecting a coach, I’d consider the formulaic “7 Easy Steps To Success” or “5 Keys To Sustained Growth” or “12 Things You Must Know To Grow Your Business” approaches, while excellent information able to quickly inspire and generate results, as more management, training or sales consulting than business coaching. Think about it: Would you want to be in a relationship where you had to jump through their hoops to feel successful. Find a coach who understands your core relationship factors:


Are you a Product or Service organization? International or national client base? What’s your culture like? How would you describe your leadership style? Is your leadership team rigid or fluid? How accepting to new ideas are you or your team? What’s your communication style? What’s your risk tolerance? What are your goals? Like any relationship you don’t want your coach to mimic or adopt your or your organization’s personality but your coach should understand these dynamics going in. Successful coaches can be an “outsider” to your industry but need to communicate challenging ideas as an “insider.”


Two great books I’ve used in my coaching are Stephen M.R. Covey’s (the son of the 7 Habits guy) Speed of Trust and Dr. Henry Cloud’s The Power of the Other as launching points framing discussions around elevating the value of trust relationships, identifying your mode of trusting others, and how to develop trust when weak or broken. The trust issues you currently experience individually or as a group, if not enunciated up front, will affect your coaching relationship.


Relationships grow strongest as consistent behaviors are executed and observed over time. Typically, the longer the period and the greater number of observations, the stronger the relationship. If you’re only able to commit short bursts of attention or you’re looking for results in a short period of time, your coach needs to know these expectations. Relationships can still grow over short periods as long as both parties have their “relational sneakers” laced up and are ready to go from the bang of the starting pistol.


Why’s this important? If you have more money than time and only want to pay someone to come in and fix all your organizational problems, you’ve in essence just hired a consultant or, worse yet, your potential replacement. If you hired someone with which to spend your free time talking about your business thoughts and ideas, you’d be better off seeing a professional counselor or joining a business organization. Coaching is a relationship requiring the freedom to push back and be “pushed upon” by someone challenging you to become the next, better version of you or your organization. Like any positive relationship, it needs to involve uncomfortable challenges to how you currently think and behave.

Next Time: What a typical coaching engagement looks like.

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